New Home” is based in my Mexican/Spanish background and the stories I’ve heard my abuelita talk about coming from Tijuana to the Bay Area. The poem is from the viewpoint of one of her sons. My aim was to capture the contrast of the mysticism of her stories with the hardships of not knowing what was going to on the other side of a new life. This poem is for my abuelita Bertha and her husband, Samuel who I never had the chance to meet. He was a World War 2 veteran that fought in D-Day.


New Home

My eyes were the shapes
Of avocado pits,
Silver as a new peso,
Blue as the Pacific
On the first day of summer.

That’s what
Madre told me at least.

My arms were fat
Like pork loins;
Plump and squishy.
They were tanned like
Padre’s work boots.
He shined them
Every night
Con un cigarillo in
The right corner of his mouth.

If madre was asleep
And I woke to pee,
He was usually out there
Lit by the cornmeal porch light,
The cow milk moon,
The bullet-riddled sky.

Ey boy, he called out to me in a whisper one night.


I said nothing,
I just went.

He picked me up
Like a small dog
Or a fat cat and
Put me on his knee.

You know we going soon? Padre asked me.


I shook my head no, saying nothing

Beyond those hills, Padre said. Over them.

He blew a thin river of smoke through his lips.
The smoke hovered there, uninterrupted.

The air was still and smelled like warm dust; 

Hopeful coercion.

Then, Padre took his cigarillo from his mouth and
Hung it over my fresh, soft caterpillar lips.

Open your mouth boy. Breathe in.

I did what I was told.

Smoke. Fire. Burning.

I thought,

This is how men breathe.

I started to cough.
Padre’s hand covered my mouth.
He laughed as he patted my back
With the palm
Of his other hand.

The inside of his hand
Tasted like tobacco,
Like dirt,
Like the salt of the sea,

Like work.

You ok, he chuckled. You ok boy.

He wiped a tear from my cheek.
I looked into his meditative eyes.
They were jagged, creased, as if
There was a silent earthquake of fear
Rumbling inside of them.


Where are we going? I asked.

New home. He coughed,
Jammed the cigarillo back into his mouth.
Gray smoke rolled over his face.


He doesn’t blink.


Propensity

Be it this
Horror
I hold around my
Waist

Or that
Pleasure
That I hold around my
Heart

Proves pain
And pleasure
Are nothing but
Reminders

Of life
Of life
And its measures
Of propensity

If pain
Or pleasure sways
Rather
Than guide
To one’s own discovery

We will be but mechanisms
Of mechanisms
Of mechanisms

Who hath no name.


Mitchell Duran is a writer of fiction, poetry, and non-fiction. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. He has been published in Free Flash Fiction, Black Horse Review, Drunk Monkey, The Millions, BrokeAssStuart, and more. He lives in San Francisco, California. Find more work at Mitchellduran.com

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